Our Terms of Service (TOS) outline a number of things we don’t allow players to do. You can read them here under “Restrictions and Conditions of Use”: http://www.disruptorbeam.com/tos. While most of these are clear, there are three that we get the most questions about: scripts, macros, and exploits. The purpose of this document is to elaborate on why these three actions are not allowed, and provide greater transparency about how we respond to cases where individuals or alliances abuse them.
Scripts and Macros
The TOS states that you should not “Use, develop or distribute ‘auto’ software programs, ‘macro’ software programs or other ‘cheat utility’ software program or applications in violation of the applicable License Agreements.”
Our games are intended to be played by you, the player—and not by a program that automates playing for you. Our user interface is the interface you need to use to maintain consistency and fairness between all players. We cannot spell out each and every individual case for you, but if you need to ask, then it’s probably not OK. That said, it’s fine to ask if you’re concerned about something, and we’ll be happy to let you know what we think.
If you use a cheat program, macro or script—then we’ll take an action that’s proportionate to how abusive it is. Again, we’re not going to spell out each and every potential reaction because we deal with these on a case-by-case basis. In general, if it seems to us that a player was simply naïve or uninformed and the benefit wasn’t particularly substantial, we’ll usually only issue a warning explaining our policies and ask the player to stop. If there was substantial abuse, temporary bans, permanent bans, and sometimes actions against an entire Alliance are possible.
The TOS states you should not “Abuse bugs or exploit features in the Services to gain unintended advantages over other players; create multiple accounts to artificially increase the ratings or scores; or to engage in any form of ‘sock puppetry’.”
Finding a really awesome and dominant combination of skills, talents or tactics in the game is not an exploit. If we think something is too powerful, we’ll probably rebalance the feature—but it isn’t wrong to take advantage of normal gameplay within the game while it exists.
On other hand, if you find that there’s a certain set of steps which work differently in a peculiar circumstance that’s inconsistent with the way the game is normally played—for example, if you found a bug that lets you duplicate an item or generate infinite silver doing something that’s obviously not part of normal gameplay—that’s an exploit. If you discover something like this, we’d like you to report it to us and not take advantage of it. On occasion, we’ve given some gold, titles or other special rewards as appreciation for reporting a particularly nasty exploit or bug. However, if you do it more than a few times—more than what could reasonably associated with coincidence or reproducing the issue so you can explain it to us—then it becomes abuse. As with scripts, we consider the severity of the abuse before deciding on the right consequence—but any amount of exploit-abuse will usually involve at least a temporary ban, and might include permanent bans from certain competitive features (like Alliance vs. Alliance) or permanent bans from the game entirely.
Alliances cooperate within themselves and compete with each other to accomplish some of the most challenging aspects of our games. If members of an alliance abuse exploits or use scripts/macros in a way that benefits the other members of their alliance, there can be repercussions for the entire alliance that go beyond the bans on individual members.
At the same time, we want to avoid the potential for manipulation such as joining an alliance through alternate accounts for the purpose of undermining them. Our approach to alliances tries to consider the frequency of problems within a given alliance, the extent of the abuse, and whether exploitations were key to an Alliance’s victory, or secondary to their success.
If we learn that an alliance gains any benefit from an exploit or script, we put a great deal of effort into verification by reviewing our databases and logs of player activity to provide ironclad evidence that abuse is taking place. We do not base decisions upon accusations, screenshots, or theories from other players—everything is always based directly upon actual data.
Once we confirm a violation occurred, the minimum consequence for the alliance is that we will remove anything the alliance has gained. In a first offense, our goal is to do this reduction proportionately because we are somewhat sympathetic to members who were caught off-guard by other players.
However, upon second or third offense we will conclude that an alliance lacks the leadership to prevent their membership from engaging in unsavory activities—and have to assume that the leadership or social structure of the alliance is complicit. At this point, we’ll typically disqualify the alliance from receiving any rewards in the current Alliance vs. Alliance phase (or, for certain extenuating circumstances—permit some innocent members of the alliances to receive a reward proportional to their effort, but pass overall victory and rewards to a different alliance). On the third offense, we may ban the alliance from accepting any new members until their leadership has changed, ban members from competitive aspects of the game, or take further action. Before these steps, we would discuss the situation with the Alliance leadership because we want to hear their side of the story.
When we take actions against individuals, we do not publicly disclose who we took action against and we cannot discuss specifics with other players. Privacy laws vary widely from country to country (and our players come from many countries). Furthermore, although we might not want these players to continue to play our games, we do not wish to incite harassment against them.
We treat alliances differently. Alliances are fictional groups that exist within the game. If we take a significant action against an alliance, such as deducting a large amount of victory points, disqualifying them, or banning them from accepting new members—then we will ordinarily post something in our community forums describing the action that was taken along with the evidence to support it. These actions are much more visible than banning or taking action on individuals, and without a clearly defined reason, our players may speculate on why this occurred.
Help us Provide the Best Community
Our goal is to foster an environment of transparency, sportsmanship, fairness and fun. Running a great game is our responsibility, but we also depend on our community to help us. If you learn about an exploit, please let us know—these issues are dealt with at the highest priority. Also remember that it is easy to suspect, but often hard to prove—be careful in leveling accusations because you’ll often be wrong. Please work with us by focusing on problems you have first-hand knowledge of, not hearsay or theories.